It is common knowledge that calories and weight control are closely related. To put it in simple terms – you must first determine the ideal caloric intake for your desired weight. Then, you should track your daily intake. If your intake is more than your ideal weight requirement, you will NOT lose weight – in fact, you may gain weight.
BMI determines a person’s ideal weight based on height. Unless you shrink dramatically with age, that number will not change. It is also the number that determines if you are underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese.
Your BMR, is the number of calories needed each day (without any activity) to sustain your ideal weight. This number can change with age as your metabolism slows. You will have to eat fewer calories to maintain your ideal weight. In other words, you cannot eat the way you did when you were younger and stay slim.
So, if you want a number that is going to be effective in weight control as far as calorie intake is concerned, you will need to determine your current Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR).
Formulas for determining BMR
- For WOMEN: 65.5 + (4.35 x weight in lbs) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
- For MEN: 66 + (6.2 x weight in lbs) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.67 x age in years)
Let’s look at an example:
A 35-year-old woman – weight 140 lbs, 5’6” tall. She is happy with her current weight and wants to maintain it. Let’s use the formula to determine her BMR.
65.5 + (4.35 x 140) + (4.7 x 66) – (4.7 x 35)
65.5 + (609) + (310.2) – (164.5) = BMR = 820.2
Once you have your BMR, you need a multiplier factor based on exercise level. The chart below is from FitnessHealth101 and can help you quickly determine the calorie intake required to sustain a specific weight. Be honest about your activity level, otherwise the numbers will not be accurate.
Using our example and factoring in her lifestyle of moderate activity, in order to sustain her current weight she should ingest ~1272 calories daily.
820.2 x 1.55 = 1272 (rounded up) calories
My guess is that when you saw the answer, you may have been surprised at the low number of calories required for an average, moderately-active woman to sustain a healthy weight. Even more shocking should be the fact that the vast majority of people eat double or triple that number of calories.
Are you guilty of eating far too many calories? Calculate your BMR today, think about what your normally eat and find out. DO NOT lie to yourself about the number of calories you ingest every day.
If the BMR calculation is too complicated, you have another choice. You can use standard charts and guidelines published by the government or supplied by your doctor. Using these charts is better than nothing, but they are not as accurate as using the BMR formula.
If you want the information right now, easy-to-use calculators can be found online. A good BMR Calculator that I use is on MyFitnessPal. You can also try a calorie calculator on Calculator.net. Just insert the necessary information and it will calculate the number of calories you need to sustain, lose, or gain weight. If your current weight is more than you desire, plug your ideal weight into the formula to get an accurate number of calories you should be eating to reach that goal.
Hopefully, once you understand the relationship between calories and weight, plus the importance of eating healthy food (which is typically lower in calories), you can use that information to budget your calories wisely. If you eat far too many calories on a daily basis and have not gained a lot of weight yet, at some point you will – probably sooner than later.
Unless you are severely obese, there is a very good chance that you can lose weight by sticking to a high-nutrition, low-calorie plan based on the BMR formulas. It will not necessarily be quick, but if you stay with it, it will happen (and slow is the best way to lose weight). Always, check with your doctor regarding your general health status before starting any weight loss program.
It is easy to blame health issues or other factors out of your control on weight gain; but, 90% or more of the time, it is really about eating the wrong foods and eating too much. The only common condition I know of that may create weight gain is when women enter perimenopause.
Nutritionally-Rich Diets Help You Lose Weight
The main reason for eating nutritionally-rich, lower-calorie foods is to provide your body with the essentials needed for good health. You will feel better, you cravings will decrease, and your desire for healthier foods will increase.
You may still experience cravings from time to time, but those will be lingering emotional cravings rather than actual food cravings. Changing eating habits can be challenging, because we have to eat to live, so you cannot just stop eating. Instead, you must learn to eat differently – and there is the rub.
By choosing fiber-rich and water-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables, plus some whole grains, you will not feel deprived even on a diet consisting of only 1272 calories a day. You will also ensure that you are getting enough vitamins and minerals each day without exceeding your calorie allowance.
It is critical to eliminate all empty-calorie foods such as fast foods, prepackaged foods, and snack foods that are high in sugar, salt, and fat. Some of the most problematic snacks foods are Big Gulps, Monster Drinks, sodas, doughnuts, cake, cookies, crackers, and candy. These are not only empty calories, they are dangerous to your health.
When you start paying attention to the caloric and nutritional content of foods that you eat; and your body makes an adjustment to the change, your desire for processed and refined empty-calorie foods will begin to diminish.
I think we have established that calories and weight control are closely related. You can use that to your advantage. I promise that if you stay with this new way of eating, the cravings for bad foods will begin to diminish because many of them are the result of poor nutrition. As you give your body what it really needs, you will start to feel completely satisfied with the good foods you have incorporated into your diet.